How to Make it Rain: Wash Your Car, Pitch a Tent, or Plan a Picnic

Fall in Ohio means apple picking, painted pumpkins, haunted houses, and corn mazes. Gardeners are beginning to put their vegetable plots to bed, already dreaming about what to plant next year. Campers look forward to crisp nights, campfires, and sticky sweet s’mores. Hikers are dressed in layers, starting out early, before the sun is up, then gradually stripping down as the warmth of the day and the exertion of their activity raises their body temperature.

Fall in Ohio also means a 30-40% chance of rain – most days!

Want to know how to make it rain? Go ahead, wash your car – it will rain that afternoon! Plan an outdoor meal – a picnic, weiner roast, or lunch at the beach. Pitch a tent, with plans to sit by a campfire – even if it doesn’t rain overnight you’ll wake up to equipment soaked by the morning dew. (I recommend putting a cover on your Brooks saddle, with its leather molded to your seat and your sit bones. Some parks have doggie poop bags, which sufficed, in a pinch.)

One of the joys (and annoyances) of camping, with strangers nearby, is getting to hear their early morning conversations, as they lounge over a steaming cup or coffee. On a late September Saturday in Ohio, when there is a break in the rain, you’re just as likely to hear the sounds of a family scurrying to pack things up, before the next round of raindrops.

This can be. . . . entertaining!

Lay back in your sleeping bag and listen in:

  • “It’s over for now, so we better get out while we can.”
  • “Why are you still rolling around in [the tent]?! Get the air outta that mattress and get it into the car, before it rains!”
  • “Kevin – you are a damn mess; you wanna help, but you move out the way!”
  • “Why are you still rolling around in [the tent]?! Get the air outta that mattress and get it into the car, before it rains!”
  • “Don’t lay that on the ground – that doesn’t touch the ground when we go camping! Why did you put that fly on the ground? Just set it down – don’t go rolling it around in the dirt!”
  • “What are these bugs?”
  • “Sabrina, put the thing in the car — why are you just walking’ around? The door is unlocked; how did you get in there before?”

And then there is Mason – the terrier pup who was a brave, first-time camper. As Mom was making her last trip to the car I asked: “How did your puppy do it the tent, overnight? Has he camped before?” I already knew the answer, which I had heard while I was still waking up, snuggled up in my own camping blanket. . .

“He was shivering overnight; I gave him a blanket, but he kept shaking it off. I let him sleep on me at night, but he was like ‘No!’ Next thing you know – here comes Mason’s butt!”

Camper Mom

Mom’s response to my inquiry about Mason, as he strutted to the nearby car: “He hated it – was pawing at the zipper, to get out. It’s his first time, and his last!”

Because I’m an “every-now-and-again” bike camper I’d carried everything I needed for this camping trip on my bicycle. It’s funny how packing for just one night of urban camping, with a Kroger nearby and plans to sleep in your clothes, to ward off the chill of the evening, doesn’t look much different than packing for a week-long cycling adventure. I had my sleeping pad, blanket, camp chair, mini-stove, and tent.

I was at a Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks event, called Scioto Fest, where there were local vendors, food trucks, and opportunities to kayak, ascend a climbing wall, or lounge in a hammock. Friday night was also Yappy Hour, which means the park was overtaken by cute, adventure-inclined, pups!

A fellow camper remarked: “The joggers [running through the park, in the early morning] probably think we’re a homeless camp.” Perhaps – but only if they couldn’t see (or didn’t recognize) the REI, Osprey, Revelate Designs, and Coleman branding on our gear. Bike camping, with gear that is light enough and small enough to safely strap to your bike in a way that doesn’t slow you down significantly, isn’t cheap. I’m very lucky that I can participate in these adventures as comfortably as I do.

I should note that the Scioto Fest was sponsored by Public Lands, a concept recently introduced to Columbus, Ohio. The parent company is DICK’s Sporting Goods, which aims to give REI a run for their money, by luring away their camping, hiking, cycling, and fishing clientele. I’ve been in a few times, but sort of feel like I’m cheating on REI when I’m there. I’m sure the feeling will pass.

“Headquartered in Pittsburgh, the leading omnichannel retailer serves athletes and outdoor enthusiasts in more than 850 DICK’S Sporting Goods, Golf Galaxy, Field & Stream, Public Lands, Going Going Gone! and Warehouse Sale stores, online, and through the DICK’S mobile app.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods website

On the heels of a week-long camping adventure, with the occasional hotel stay, it was refreshing to ride from my home, in Sharon Township, to Scioto Audubon Metro Park. It’s just about 13 miles via the Olentangy bike path. It’s not a park that typically allows camping, so it was a real treat to be there. It’s not often you get to camp within sight of a city’s skyline. (I’ve done it once before, in Chicago, at a hipcamp. Read about that adventure here: Rustic City Camping: Don’t Let COVID-19 ‘Get Your Goat’ This Fall)

“Set amid a once industrial landscape, Scioto Audubon has been transformed from a blighted brownfield into a green oasis where wildlife and birds thrive and flourish. The 120-acre park is a recreational and educational destination for visitors of all ages. Located along the banks of the Scioto River just south of downtown Columbus, the park resulted from a partnership between the City of Columbus, Ohio Audubon and Columbus Metro Parks to bring nature to the Capital City.”

Scioto Audubon website

Did it rain? Yes, of course it rained – and I love waking up to the soothing sound of a light rain! For a moment I think: “Ugh, we’re going to have to pack up camp in the rain. . . “, but then I’m overcome by thoughts of: “(big sigh) I can linger in the tent as long as I like. No one cares if I make it to the 7 am yoga class being offered by the park,” and “I wonder if Craig will start my coffee for me, the way he did when we camped along the C&O canal towpath. . . “

On a trip like this it’s really not that much hassle to pitch the tent in the backyard when you get home, to let everything dry out. It’s worth it, to enjoy this start of fall! I wouldn’t change a thing! I hope our camping companions, including the strangers we met this weekend, feel the same way.

I’ve never been a fan of the pumpkin spiced everything in the grocery store and the coffeeshop, but I do love a slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving day. It’s a tradition, along with freshly made cranberry sauce — not that stuff from a can. It might be early to be thinking about tofurky and mashed potatoes, since we haven’t gotten past Halloween, but the best parts of fall are upon us – daily!

Stay dry!

Join me on my next adventure,

~ Kat

Related Links:

Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

REI: A Life Outdoors is a Life Well Lived

Public Lands



Revelate Designs


Rustic City Camping: Don’t Let COVID-19 ‘Get Your Goat’ This Fall


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